Preserved North American Electric Railway Cars
Roster Details

I. Criteria for Inclusion

There are a number of different factors which help decide whether or not a particular piece of equipment ought to be included on The Roster of Preserved North American Electric Railway Cars. Many are obvious - a Birney or wooden interurban car operating in a museum is an easy choice. Others are not so obvious. Is an interurban freight trailer really an electric car? Is a 1920s work car still in everyday service with its original owner historic, or preserved? What about an electric MU commuter car that has been stripped of most of its electric equipment by a tourist railroad? In the end, all of the criteria have been applied to come to a conclusion about each piece under consideration. (Note: the word "car" will be used to designate electric railway equipment in general, including locomotives and other miscellaneous types.)

The first question is, "is it an electric car?" If the car was built to operate by taking power from overhead wire, third rail or conduit, the answer is "yes." The only preserved dual-power electric/diesel-electrics thought to exist in North America are FL9As; the decision has been made not to include them, largely because the FL9 is essentially a stock diesel fitted with a good deal of special equipment. There are a number of cars on the list that do not take power from the line, though. Most are passenger trailers, which undoubtedly belong alongside motor cars in any list of traction equipment. Many interurban freight cars, however, carry no traction-specific apparatus and in some cases are simply mainline freight cars acquired secondhand by traction lines. A very small number of interurban freight trailers have been included in the list because of their unique design, developed by the Central Electric Railway Association. Except for these, and a handful of other cars designed to operate solely with electric cars, electric railway freight cars have not been included.

The second question is, "is it preserved?" This question comes into play notably when considering carbodies in use as sheds or houses - "chicken coops," to use a common term. These cars have not been included because they are not preserved, in that they stand a poor chance of ultimate survival. Even bodies that are owned by museums are considered to be preserved, because in general museums plan on eventually restoring all of the cars in their collections. Cars still in regular service, but judged to be historic (and, by extension, preserved), are also included. There is no specific cut-off date, but cars like PCCs and older work cars are included even when they are still in regular service. Cars specifically designed as historical replicas had previously been included, but as of 28-November-2004, will no longer be listed unless they incorporate significant, authentic historic content.

The third question is, "is it from North America?" There are a number of foreign electric cars in use at American museums and transit operations. Many of these cars are old enough to be considered historic. However, every one of them has operated in North America solely in a museum or "heritage line" function, and not in regular service. Because of this, these cars have not been included. On the other hand, cars that did operate in regular service in North America and were later transported overseas (including several Third Avenue Railway streetcars) have been included.

There are other considerations. Electric MU commuter cars have been preserved in large numbers, however most have been shorn of the majority of their electric equipment and pressed into service as normal coaches. These cars have been included in the list; they are regarded as akin to a streetcar missing its control system or motors. On the other hand, several electric cars that were built as non-electrics and later rebuilt for electric service have been restored to their pre-electrified states. These cars have not been included because they are considered to be preserved as non-electrics. Electric cars that have been modified to the point of being unrecognizable have also been removed from the list in some cases. Equipment built for track gauge narrower than 3' has been excluded, which eliminates mining and industrial railways.

II. Explanation of Terms and Criteria Used in Specific Categories

Number and Railway
The number and railway listed for a car are those it currently wears. If a car is in an unrestored condition, the number and railway listed are those that its owner is thought to have plans to restore it to. Former operators and numbers are listed in the "Ownership History" category. The number is in fact alpha-numeric and so when sorting by car number, 20 comes before 3, which is somewhat confusing.
Builder and "Built In" Date
These are fairly self-apparent. They designate the car's builder and the year it was built (not necessarily the year it was delivered or placed into service). Rebuilds are generally ignored or placed in the "Notes" category except where a complete rebuild, using only isolated components of the original car, was done. In these cases the date of the rebuild is listed and the original built date is placed in the "Notes" category.
All cars on the list are sorted into one of about 25 categories, such as "interurban" or "locomotive" or "work motor." These are broad designations; more specific information is placed in parentheses, as are railroad-determined classifications (such as "GG-1") where applicable. This makes it possible to search for e.g. all surviving combines, or all Lackawanna rapid transit cars, or all GG-1 locomotives.
The status of each piece of equipment is noted as belonging in one of several general categories. Major categories include "displayed inoperable" (car does not operate, but is on public display); "displayed operable" (car is apparently in operational condition, but is on static display); "operated occasionally" (car is operational but is not used in regular service); "operated often" (car is used regularly); "stored inoperable" (car is neither in operating condition nor on public display); "towed inoperable" (car is operated, but unpowered and hauled by a locomotive); "undergoing restoration" (car is seeing noticeable rebuilding work); and "situation unknown" (status of car has not been determined). Some of these categories differ only slightly; input is appreciated.
This is pretty self-explanatory - it notes the material used in the car's basic construction.
Roof and Ended
These two categories carry two-letter designators intended to communicate some descriptive elements of the car's design. The "roof" category lists the type of roof the car has. AR=arched roof; BO=Bombay roof; DR=deck roof; RR=railroad roof; ST="Stillwell" style roof; TU=turtleback roof. The "ended" category designates whether the car is single ended (SE) or double ended (DE). This determination depends largely on whether the car has control consoles of approximately equal capability at either end - a car with only a backup or hostler controller at the rear is still considered single ended.
Length, Width, Height and Weight
Given in feet+inches and in pounds. Some dimensional measurements may differ, particularly height, which can be measured to a variety of things including roof, trolley boards, ventilators and trolley base. Figures listed have been published at one point or another; input is appreciated. Length is considered to be length overall, not body length; some inconsistency may exist as to whether this length is over buffers or over coupler pulling faces. Weight listed is weight when complete and without load.
This is the number of seats on the car; standing room is not considered.
This refers to the car's "Out Of Service" date. In fact, the year listed is the year in which the car was sold by or otherwise transferred from its operating company, not the year it was removed from active service. The year it was removed from active service is listed in parentheses, but only when it differs from the year the car was sold (in most cases, these dates are the same). For example, the Chicago Aurora & Elgin ceased all passenger service in 1957 but didn't sell its cars until 1962; therefore, the "OOS" listing for CA&E passenger cars is 1962, with 1957 in parentheses.
This refers to the track gauge the car was designed to run on. Changes in gauge are listed in the "Notes" category.
This category includes a number, designating how many wheels a car has (always a multiple of two, generally a multiple of four), and a designator in parentheses. This latter designator is a way of communicating the number, arrangement and powering of a car's axles. Unpowered axles are designated with numbers, powered axles with letters. Axles rigidly mounted, as in a truck [bogie], are "added" to each other - an unpowered two-axle truck is designated "2" and a powered two-axle truck is designated "B". Trucks with a mixture of powered and unpowered axles, like Brill "Maximum Traction" trucks, are listed as "A1" or "1A". Dashes [-] and plus signs [+] designate truck connections. A dash designates trucks or axles connected through the body (a standard two-truck streetcar is designated "B-B"), and a plus sign designates trucks connected together directly (a good example is a GG-1 locomotive, where buffering forces are not transferred through the body). This seemingly complex system is often used for diesels, and is something of an extension of the Whyte steam locomotive classification system adapted for units with traction motors. The Whyte equivalent of a standard streetcar (B-B) would be 0-4-4-0; a GG-1 locomotive (2-C+C-2) would be 4-6-6-4. This category is also used to list whether or not a car is powered; a two-truck trailer is designated "2-2". There are a few discrepancies; questions and comments are welcomed.
Total HP
This category lists the total rated hourly horsepower for the car; divide by the number of motors and one arrives at the rating for that type of motor.
The manufacturer and designation of the trucks. Where different trucks are used under the same car, both are listed with a / and an explanation appears in the Notes.
Motors, Control, Brakes and Compressor
GE=General Electric, WH=Westinghouse. The number in parentheses after the motor or compressor designation lists how many the car has.

"Control" lists the type of motor control system used. For simple "K" platform controllers, the controller model number is listed. All "K" controllers were, in fact, manufactured as components by General Electric and then assembled and sold by Westinghouse, et al. under license. For multiple-unit or power-operated control, the manufacturer (abbreviated) and control system type are listed, followed by the master controller model number, if known, in parentheses, e.g. "GE PC-10 (C36)".

"Brake" refers to the braking type or braking schedule. The brake valve model number, if known, is listed in parentheses. Square brackets around any type of equipment mean that it is not currently mounted on the car. Bodies will have the trucks in parentheses (along with everything else), for instance.

Where a "Voltage" is listed, it means this car operated on a nominal supply voltage other than 600 Volts, DC.
Ownership History
This category, referred to under "Number and Railway," lists former owners, numbers and dates of ownership. Often this information is difficult to come by; input is appreciated.
This category lists any miscellaneous information that does not fall into any of the above categories.


Any questions or corrections? Feel free to contact Frank Hicks at